On January 19 - 22, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to document the second inauguration of President Barack Obama. I wanted to know how people felt about the last four years, their hopes for the next four, what issues were most important to them and why they wanted to be there. I photographed and interviewed people on Sunday before the inauguration, the morning of the inauguration on the National Mall, after the inauguration on the Mall and along the parade route, and then later that evening at an inauguration party. I asked most everyone five main questions:
Are your expectations the next four years different than they were four years ago?
Did President Obama have a tangible impact on your life the past four years?
What would you like his priority to be for the next term?
Did you have any disappointments the past four years?
If there's one thing you could tell President Obama, what would it be?
These are their stories.
Omar & Barbara from Miami, Florida
January 20, 2013, 03:57 pm
"I think Obama's gonna be a historical figure when the noise of the Tea Party is silenced.
"I think he's a nice person—I think he's too nice at times."
Michelle & Tim from Oregon
January 20, 2013, 04:41 pm
Will from Richmond, Virginia
January 21, 2013, 09:27 am
Fei & Janice Li from Maryland
January 20, 2013, 03:42 pm
"I think he changed the view and perspective on how the rest of the world looks at America."
Wendy, Cynthia & Jeannie from New York City and Seattle
January 21, 2013, 12:56 pm
"I work in health care, so the health care law is already making a big difference and it will continue."
"I think the whole Guantanamo, terror thing and the rights there were a disappointment and I would like to see that change."
"I work very hard, that's why I come to President Obama. If you work hard, everyone gets a fair shot. I want him to give me a fair shot back."
Andrea & Sherry from Chicago, Illinois
January 20, 2013, 05:24 pm
"The last four years? Yea, he was a little weak. A little weak with Congress. He's a good person at heart, he just didn't want to stand up to them."
John from Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2013, 09:54 am
"There was a point where we had a chance to really have a holistic, national conversation about race. It didn't go as far as I had hoped.."
Pat from Hackensack, New Jersey
January 21, 2013, 09:40 am
"Global warming is a problem because the oil companies are raping the crap out of the United States right now with fracking. We all know that if we stopped using every last drop of gasoline—yesterday—and stopped driving all our cars, global warming would still be getting worse for 10, 20...we don't really know. We're not only continuing to use oil, we're increasing consumption every single year!"
Michelle from Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2013, 09:31 am
"Personally, the biggest issue I think that needs to be addressed is the pro-choice, pro-life issue and settling an agreement one way or the other. But that's something that most likely will not happen because it's very controversial."
Zachary & Tasha from Danville, Virginia
January 21, 2013, 10:09 am
"I want him to make school cheaper for students, and cheaper gas."
Chris & Zoe from Seattle, Washington
January 21, 2013, 12:43 pm
"I'd love to see a dramatic push for better gun control. Something on the order of magnitude of what they've done in England or Australia."
"As a mixed race person in this country, it was a big deal to see a black man become president. It was something my grandmother certainly thought she would never see."
Chunna, Yang Li & Guang Yu from Black Mountain, North Carolina
January 20, 2013, 03:36 pm
"I met him once when he went to Asheville airport and delivered a speech there. His talks find a way to get into my heart."
Billy & Naila from Richmond, Virginia
January 21, 2013, 10:52 am
"I have a small business, and the deductions I got from having a small business, tax-wise, was my best time. I got more money back while he's been in office than I've had in the last eight years. My biggest disappointment was Congress—you get all these people elected in there to work together, and they get in there and turn their backs on each other. They're just so out of touch with all these people out here."
Donna & Justin from Wasilla, Alaska
January 21, 2013, 09:54 am
"I have disappointments about the state of our country, financially. And I don't blame him—he took over it. All we can do is hope that this year things will get better and this term things will get better."
Gina from Florida
January 21, 2013, 07:43 am
"He broke the seal in what blacks can expect as far as a lifelong dream in allowing young people to realize that regardless of their race, color or creed you can actually reach the top and be Commander-in-Chief in this country. With all the division, we need to focus on coming together and making a change for all people, rather than rich vs. poor or in between."
Melissa & Mitchell from Monroe, Michigan
January 21, 2013, 10:40 am
"I feel like he'll be able to get a lot more done this time, now that he's not worrying about re-election."
"Hopefully once Obamacare kicks in, I'll have health care."
Brittany & Jennifer from Cleveland, Ohio
January 21, 2013, 09:48 am
"I was happy with the school financial aid, being a student."
"He came into a lot. I think that he's dealt with more adversity, in my opinion, at least in my lifetime, than any other president I've known."
Akia from Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2013, 09:51 pm
"I think that his re-election and his first election manifested what has always been a part of the dialogue that happens within the African American community in terms of hopefulness, dreaming, wishing and praying. And so seeing him has brought about the realization that anything is possible."
Dick from Knoxville, Tennessee
January 21, 2013, 10:01 am
"I think initially we've got to address gun control. Long term, clearly we need to get our economy moving on a more rapid pace. I feel that we are looking forward and we're not looking back. We're more inclusive."
Doug & Karl from Atlanta, Georgia
January 21, 2013, 10:48 am
"I think the issue most important for us is same-sex marriage and equality."
Sarah from Chandler, Arizona
January 21, 2013, 12:33 pm
"I'm a history teacher, so I think I've always felt that some of the excitement four years ago, some of the hope, was a tad bit unrealistic. I think his support for education, being a teacher, has been important. The first priority I think we have to do is find a way to help keep the peace in the world. We have to find a way to not be in constant warfare."
Liv from Arlington, Virginia
January 21, 2013, 09:44 pm
"I think his priority should be the climate. That is huge to me, and I feel like the world wants a leader and feel like he could be a leader."
Ed from Washington, D.C.
January 20, 2013, 04:56 pm
"There are a lot of things that need to be done. We've got to get the budget under control, and I think he can do a better job at it."
Norberto & Brenda from Columbia, Maryland
January 20, 2013, 04:14 pm
"I think he could do much more better."
What's the one issue you would like him to focus on? "Immigration."
Oyekanmi from New York City
January 21, 2013, 03:31 pm
"I see him as a very hard-working man and he's a good president to follow. I know he's going to do very great things in the next four years. If there's knowledge, everything will be possible."
Debra from Virginia
January 21, 2013, 10:08 pm
"Please focus on small business—keeping them here in America, keeping the manufacturers here in America, and helping small business owners by trying to put legislation through that addresses the fact that a small business can't afford to implement health care for all of its employees."